EPA Introduces New Guidelines To Assess Cancer Risk for Children Exposed to Certain Agents
The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday released a draft version of guidelines that would change the standards used to scientifically evaluate how potential cancer-causing agents affect children, the Washington Post reports. Under the proposed guidelines, an update to guidelines issued in 1986, children ages two and younger would be considered to face a risk of cancer 10 times greater than adults and children ages two through 15 would be considered to face a risk three times greater than adults. This is the first time that EPA regulators have assumed that children are more vulnerable to cancer-causing effects of chemicals, the Post reports (Stein, Washington Post, 3/4). The new guidelines would mandate that researchers use the age-related standards in analyzing chemicals that cause gene mutation that can lead to cancer, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The guidelines could be expanded to apply to all chemical analysis. The new rules are based on research in animal studies involving five mutagenic compounds and data from studies of people in Japan who survived after atomic bombs were dropped there at the end of World War II, James Cogliano, an EPA scientist, said (Hebert, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/4).
The early-life guidelines -- issued as a supplement to an overall risk-assessment report -- represent the agency's "first formal steps" to incorporate recent research in the process of evaluating environmental standards, the New York Times reports (Lee, New York Times, 3/4). Such rules could impact decisions for toxic waste site cleanups, drinking water and air-quality standards and pesticide application, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports (Fleshler, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 3/4). However, regulators "could not say" whether the guidelines would lead to more or less restrictive regulations, according to the Post (Washington Post, 3/4). Bill Farland, acting deputy assistant administrator for science at the EPA, said the final guidelines will be reviewed by the EPA science advisory board in May, and a final document is expected to be issued by summer (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/4). The EPA draft guidance for carcinogen risk assessment and the supplemental guidance for early-life exposure are available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.